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Undrafted Watts Making a Statement

Posted Aug 26, 2014

Undrafted free agent running back Trey Watts has made the most of his limited opportunities this preseason, but has he done enough to make the 53-man roster?

To state a well-known fact, the Rams have a young and talented group of running backs. Second-year players Zac Stacy and Benny Cunningham made strong impressions in 2013, and rookie third-round pick Tre Mason has flashed his potential throughout the preseason.

But there’s another rookie at the position trying to make a name for himself in the NFL -- undrafted free agent Trey Watts.

The 23-year-old back out of Tulsa is looking to translate his big college numbers to the pros. A former walk-on, Watts proved himself to be be adept at both running and catching the ball. He put up 4,667 total yards from scrimmage in his collegiate career -- 3,515 rushing and 1,152 receiving -- and 24 total touchdowns. Of those, 1,724 scrimmage yards came in 2013, as he led Conference USA in that category and yards rushing, with 1,329.

So the talented Watts is now working hard in order to make the Rams’ 53-man roster. Though he missed some time toward the beginning of camp with a hamstring injury, Watts has made some waves with his performance ever since. The rookie says he’s fully healthy now, and feels like his preseason has been going well.

“It stunk to get hurt, but as I came back, I feel like I’m picking up were I left off and going pretty strong,” Watts said last week, adding that Stacy and Cunningham have aided him and Mason with the transition to the NFL. “They do a really good job of helping us, teaching us, and helping us learn the ropes.”

A significant part of the reason the second-year backs have been so helpful is because they foster an environment where all the running backs can be close.

“I feel like they haven’t known us for too long, but they’ve just become like family,” Watts said. “They, along with coach, have been bringing us in because they feel like we’re only as good as our weakest link.”

So far, there doesn’t seem to be much of a drawback no matter what back is in the game. Watts has performed well in his two preseason games, racking up 55 yards on 12 carries, good for a 4.6 average. He’s also caught four passes for 39 yards, showing the potential to be an all-around back like he was in college.

Watts said his receiving ability is one element of his game that complements the Rams’ other backs.

“I feel like I have pretty good hands out of the backfield -- and just knowing the game and being smart, always being in the right spot,” he said. “But I think everybody brings a different skill set to the table, and that’s what they like about all of us -- the fact that you can roll us into different situations and we can all excel in different things.”

“He’s very talented with the ball in his hands,” head coach Jeff Fisher said on Sunday, adding that Watts has good vision. “In college, he was a versatile back -- worked out of the backfield, lined up in the slot, and did all those kinds of things.”

Watts’ success on the gridiron isn’t exactly a surprise considering his pedigree. Watts’ father, J.C. Watts, played quarterback for the Oklahoma Sooners, helping lead the team to consecutive Orange Bowl victories in the 1979 and 1980 seasons. The elder Watts went on to play in the CFL for the Ottawa Rough Riders and Toronto Argonauts before calling it a career following the 1986 season.

The young running back said he’s been talking to his dad throughout the preseason, but not just about what’s happening on the field.

“He’s always been a guy I can just call up and talk to, but it won’t be necessarily too much about football,” Watts said of his father. “He always does a good job of keeping my head on straight and keeping me focused and motivated. He always tells me to take it one day at a time, give it your all, and control the things you can control, which is your attitude and effort.”

As August comes to a close and roster cuts loom, there are some things Watts says he has to focus on to present his best case for making the team.

“I just have to be physical,” Watts said. “I like my speed, and I do some good things. I feel like I’ve been pretty smart picking up the offense. I just feel like I need to be really physical and keep protecting the quarterback.”

With the numerous skills he brings to the table, Watts has a chance to not only make the roster, but to also make a real impact on the Rams’ offense in 2014.